Universities in Germany
The German system of higher education includes a total of more than 320 institutions (state institutions or recognised institutions) that are subdivided into universities and "Fachhochschulen" (Universities of Applied Sciences).
Information about the German Higher Education System can be obtained from:
Universities of Applied Sciences are a relatively new form of higher education that were established between 1969 and 1971 and emphasise high quality, practice-oriented education.
During their degree courses, students will gain competences in using scientific methods and research results to solve concrete job-related tasks.
They will be equipped with the methods and problem-solving competencies that are suitable for quickly finding and implementing solutions to professional problems in a fast-moving age - today and in the future.
What makes Universities of Applied Sciences different is the integration of professional, hands-on experience into their educational profile.
Most Universities of Applied Sciences have included a practical placement programme in their courses, which means one semester of supervised practical training in a company.
During the main study programme, students are expected to practice what they have learned with tasks and problems they will face during their future, everyday professional life. This type of practical training often develops in co-operation with a company into a degree thesis or final project covering a concrete professional problem to be completed in the last semester.
Small and medium-sized businesses in particular are in close contact with students, who frequently get their first career opportunity through their practical placement and degree thesis.
The degrees awarded by Universities of Applied Sciences are Bachelor´s and Master´s degrees.
In addition to placing clear emphasis on teaching, Universities of Applied Sciences increasingly develop activities in application-oriented research and development projects, often in cooperation with small and medium-sized businesses in the corresponding region.
This co-operation leads to a transfer of technology, which students can include in their degree theses or final projects, and to various new and redesigned products, procedures, and services. In this respect, Universities of Applied Sciences play a specific political role within the region: they create and improve prerequisites for coping with structural change.
Practical orientation towards teaching and the application orientation in research and development are formative elements in the profile of universities of applied sciences.
Approximately 40 % of graduates from all institutions of higher education in Germany come from Universities of Applied Sciences. In some courses the amount is even higher, especially in courses important for industry and commerce. The figure is as high as 50 % for business studies, 50 % for computer science, and even 70 % of engineering graduates obtained their degree in these higher education establishments..
These institutions of higher education have also developed innovative results in teaching itself. They have considerably expanded international studies by offering common study programmes together with international partner universities. They have also expanded the practical integration by creating training courses for working persons, as well as by combining the normal German professional training programmes with their studies.
All this is possible because lecturers at Universities of Applied Sciences must have practical professional experience along with their scientific abilities. Scientific work and the use of science within a framework of an extensive professional background are indispensable qualifications of the lecturers at Universities of Applied Sciences and create the fundamental basis where practical orientation as well as application orientation makes up the special profile of these institutions.
As there is no exact equivalent of this type of institution, neither in the British nor in the American educational system, the term "Fachhochschule" cannot be readily translated.
Considering their distinct profile, German "Fachhochschulen" are generally described as "Universities of Applied Sciences".